The Obama administration said it would give religious organizations one additional year to comply with a new policy requiring employers to provide free contraception services in insurance plans. Roman Catholic bishops and other church leaders had protested the new rules, which were announced in August by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, following a recommendation of the National Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.
It was designed to drive down the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion by making birth control available under the preventive health care services that all insurers must cover without a deductible or co-payment.
Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship were already exempt, but some religious leaders wanted the exemption broadly expanded.
Even so, the question is likely to linger as a campaign issue.
Oh, goody. My basic health is a campaign issue. Again. I’m sure this will be a rational and fact-based debate.
To me, this is a public health regulation. Birth control prevents pregnancy. Pregnancy is, among other things, a health issue for women. Preventing pregnancy, at the most basic level, is something women do to avoid changes to their own health. They’re avoiding some other big changes, too, but at the most basic, immediate level they’re preventing the changes to their own health that pregnancy brings. I can’t separate “preventing pregnancy” and “a woman’s health” because that doesn’t make any sense to me.
Democrats believe public health is a legitimate role for the state and Democrats believe that women are part of the public. Do women have unique health issues that men don’t have? Yeah. They do. That doesn’t take women out of the public health population. One of the goals of the health care law was to give people access to preventative health services without additional out of pocket costs. If women are using birth control as a preventative health measure, and tens of millions of them are, then birth control is well within that frame.
On a political level, I’m more than willing to have a fight with conservatives over access to birth control. I do not believe that access to birth control is at all controversial among the general public, so let’s go.
Birth control is the most commonly prescribed drug for women age 18 to 44, and polls suggest that large majorities of Americans of all faiths support its use.
Sadly, we’ll have to start at the customary 30,00 feet, with Mitt Romney lying his ass off to avoid the topic altogether. I know that applies to nearly any discussion that involves Mitt Romney, but here he’s lying about what he knows and doesn’t know on whether states may ban birth control:
former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stumbled badly on a Constitutional question from moderator George Stephanopoulos, first trying to punt it to “our Constitutionalist” Ron Paul, then demonstrating painful ignorance about the issues of privacy and banning contraception. The Republican crowd was none too pleased with the line of questioning, booing Stephanopoulos several times.
“Absolutely…I want to get to that core question,” Stephanopoulos continued. “Do you believe states have the right to ban contraception, or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?”
Romney immediately tried to evade the question. “George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. Do states have the right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine circumstances where a state would want to do so.”
“I would oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking — given the fact there’s no state that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our Constitutionalist here.”
“Do you believe states have that right or not?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“George, I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do and asking me if I want to do it or not is kind of a silly thing.”
“Hold on a second. governor, you went to Harvard law school. you know very well…”
“Has the Supreme Court decided states do not have the right to provide contraception?” he asked.
“Yes,” Stephanopoulos answered, “they have. ’65, Griswold v. Connecticut.”
“Absolutely…I want to get to that core question,”
Nope. That’s not my core question. As far as I’m concerned, Griswold is settled law. Conservatives lost on that ages ago. I want to move on. I have a different question.
Is access to contraception about public health, my health? See, I think it is. That’s the question I want answered. I know media and conservatives don’t want to talk about birth control in that context, but I don’t accept that. Media and conservatives have framed and limited debate by taking it 30,000 feet up in the air where it’s abstract and they feel safe and comfy, and, incidentally, where conservatives are insulated from the political risk that comes with speaking frankly and plainly about real, live women. I’m not listening to another debate about birth control where women are never mentioned. Sorry. Not doing that. If we’re going to discuss birth control, and we are, because conservatives insist on making anything to do with what we coyly call “reproductive health” a national controversy, I have to demand we all come crashing back to earth and talk about women, our health, and the practical reality of our lives.